This project aims at exploring the potential of interactive spatial information visualisation in the context of Digital Archaeology.
It researches theoretical aspects of virtual spaces as well as a practical case study looking at different ways of conveying archaeological information and displaying research work. A virtual model of the Queen Meresankh III Mastaba in Giza, Egypt has been used as a case study to show how interactive simulation tools can be utilised for archaeological visualisations. It investigates technologies for the following: (a) exchanging spatial information in digital documents, (b) visualising information in its spatial, geographical and historical contexts, (c) providing a walkthrough of a virtual space. Possible software solutions for these categories are tested and evaluated in terms of functionality, usability, and applicability. The selected technologies - Adobe 3D PDF, Google Earth, and Unity function as spatial information systems. Besides providing real-time spatial experiences, the applications are tested specifically for archaeological and architectural information visualisations. The implemented functions focus on navigation and orientation, enhancing the understanding of archaeological inscriptions with translations, and implementing additional information about objects. Adobe 3D PDF focuses on the exchange of spatial information in digital documents (a), and advanced customised functions such as encoding metadata and linking to external databases are tested. Google Earth integrates maps, pictures, documents, 3D models, videos, etc. and relates the data to its spatial, geographical, and historical context (b). The game engine, Unity, supports customised user interaction, offers advanced rendering techniques, and provides a walkthrough of a virtual space (c). Spatial information systems encourage users to explore and support their understanding of archaeological issues and architectural structures.
Compared to non-interactive media such as pre-rendered movies and animations, interactive visualisations allow the user to control, combine, and to become actively involved with the information. Potential applications are used as an interactive teaching and learning tool, implementation in interactive exhibitions and museums, and also archaeological discovery process by facilitating information visualisation and exchange in research project support to name a few.
New technologies offer a wide range of possibilities for bringing together formerly scattered or isolated information and thereby making archaeological data accessible. It is shown how archaeological information can be graphically visualised taking into account its spatial, temporal and thematic contexts. Spatial information visualisation is not yet established in the profession of archaeology, architecture or building science but it proves to have great potential.